If you've been looking at your LJ friends page in the past couple of months, you've probably seen some of my posts where, in installments, I reprinted in its entirety the landmark 12-page article about gay life in the United States from the June 26, 1964 edition of Life magazine, at one time considered the true mass media for our culture, with readership topping ten million.
(If you'd like to see one or more of the posts, click here or on the "history" tag of this post, and they'll all come up, albeit in reverse order.)
Five years before Stonewall (almost to the day), it was the first major article about homosexuality in a widely-read popular magazine (The New York Times ran a smiliar in-depth piece just six months before, which probably contributed to Life magazine's decision to commission its feature.)
That was 45 years ago, considered two generations. Reading back on it today, it is heartening to see how much has changed, much of it for the better -- yet quite disheartening to see what has not, how many of the same fights we're fighting for our basic dignity and rights, battling the same stupidity and prejudices that have no basis in logic, morals, or justice. And all this at great costs to our individual and community's sense of self worth, our mental and physical health, our financial opportunities, tolerating injustices on a daily basis with privileges given to everyone else that they take for granted and are oblivious to, yet are unwilling to share as if it diminishes their own rights or happiness. Every single straw argument bigots raise about gay marriage, ENDA, DOMA, DADT, immigration, bias crimes, bullying in schools, etc., etc., etc., fails on logic and boils down to just this: "we want to continue to hate you."
Here, for the completist in me, is a little context for when the article was printed, since most of those of you reading this probably weren't even born then (hell, I was only seven myself). What was Life, and life, like back when this article was printed?
Here's how Life magazine publicized the forthcoming feature in the previous issue:
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